Having somewhere to call home is a basic human right. We want to ensure that nobody has to face the blight of homelessness and everyone has a safe, warm place they can call home.


We are reducing and addressing homelessness by:


Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.

Councils have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They do this by:

  • providing information and advice
  • offering temporary or permanent accommodation if circumstances warrant it

The Homelessness Statistics covering 1 April to 30 September 2019 were released by Scotland’s Chief Statistician in January 2020. There were 18,645 applications for homelessness assistance – a decrease of 2% compared to the same six-month period in 2018. 

We have provided more information about how we collect equality information and evidence to inform policy development.

Bills and legislation

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced changes to existing homelessness legislation. It established the right to review a homelessness decision, and introduced a duty on registered social landlords (RSLs) to assist local authorities in rehousing homeless people.

The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 outlined the provision that by 2012 anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own must be entitled to settled accommodation (a council or housing association tenancy or private rental).

This amended the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which defines the rights of homeless people and was enshrined in law in 2012 with the Homeless (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012.

In 2012 the Scottish Parliament also passed secondary legislation on housing support regulations, requiring local authorities to assess the housing support needs of homeless applicants.

The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020, which previously prohibited local authorities from placing pregnant women or families with children into bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) or hotels for more than seven days, was extended to all homeless households.


Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scottish Government
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Victoria Quay